Miscellaneous Events

Summer is Coming (Soon)

Posted on Jun 11, 2012

Summer is Coming (Soon)

Once the weather starts to warm up, time seems to exponentially disappear on me. The warmer months of the year are the busier months of the year, for everyone I supp0se. But, somewhere in amongst camp days, school days, soccer and t-ball games, treks to the pool, weekend road-trips and the seemingly unending picnics in the park, I do find time to cook.

I adore warm-weather cooking for its simple¬†arithmetic: (meat + veggies) x grill = fabulous dinner. I find the scents of grilling and all warm-weather cooking irresistible: all those fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables make me lightheaded (in a good way). The flavours are diverse and splendid…and tempt my palate well into the cool crisp months that follow (we Canadians bar-b-que all winter long, it’s a part of our genetic makeup.)

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My Coffee Addiction (and a contest!)

Posted on Jan 10, 2012

My Coffee Addiction (and a contest!)

My name is Jennifer and I am addicted to coffee…

For me coffee has always represented a rare species of mysterious devotion. When I was young I was not allowed to drink this bitter, warm beverage that the adults in my life sipped after dinner or with breakfast as though it were the nectar of the Gods. I recall at quite a young age, my grandfather making me toast sticks (toast with peanut butter, cut into narrow sticks that somehow tasted so much better than regular-shaped toast with peanut butter) at the breakfast table in his kitchen; him sipping coffee and me sitting right up close to him, sniffing his coffee and wanting, more than anything, to be granted just one taste.

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A FroYo of Biblical Proportions

Posted on Nov 15, 2011

A FroYo of Biblical Proportions

I walked through the door and was immediately struck by the scent of fresh waffle cones. Never a bad way to start an afternoon, I figured. This, only my second visit to Menchie’s, was definitely going to be interesting, as I was there for something called a “Blogurtfest”. It had been hashtagged all over Twitter in recent days, and I had been invited. I couldn’t say no – I mean who ever says no to frozen yogurt experimentation…? For Serious. So I went in. I smelled the waffles, I saw the toppings, I checked out the flavours. With my senses properly piqued I continued on and found the small-ish group I had been expecting on Saturday afternoon for the first official Blogurtfest.

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TIFF-Berries (CONTEST)

Posted on Aug 27, 2010

Sun-kissed and sweet, straight from the celebrity capital of the world, California Strawberries are the official strawberry of the Toronto International Film Festival, 2010.

This "celebrity berry" will be on the red carpet at the festival, and now you can be there (or at least kind of close to it), too!

If you love film, you’ll love the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Toronto International Film Festival has become the launching pad for the best of international, Hollywood and Canadian cinema, and is recognized as the most important film festival after Cannes.

And now you (yes, you!) could win two non-gala Screening tickets to the festival.

Please send me an email telling me about your favourite strawberry dessert recipe. Entries will be accepted as of now (August 27) until next Friday, September 3 at 5pm (Eastern Standard time). One winner will be chosen randomly.

Some of my personal favourite strawberry recipes are:
Fresh Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Clafouti, Strawberry Cornmeal Bread and (to die for!) a White Balsamic Custard and Strawberry Tart.

These non-gala tickets do not include a red carpet and the recipient must be 18 years or older. Obviously it would be best if you live in Toronto, but if you are willing to travel here to see a movie then by all means, enter the contest!

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Relax and Enjoy

Posted on Aug 17, 2010

The winners of the Relax and Enjoy contest (chosen randomly from over 400 entrants) are Victoria Hyde (who declared her love of Carmel is due to it’s various forms and textures) and Masa Soliman (who claimed that caramel is "gooey and delicious and tastes good in everything — chocolate, ice cream, creme caramel, cookies, YOU NAME IT).

Thank you to everyone who entered. My email inbox is very tired and grateful that this contest is now closed.

There are few sweet combinations that I like more than caramel and chocolate. Actually, to be completely honest, chocolate does go with just about anything. But caramel, with it’s slow, subtle flavour and it’s deliberate texture, it is probably the ideal companion. The chocolate stains your fingers and the caramel lingers right alongside for serious licking enjoyment, long after the actual confection is gone. Dessert doesn’t get much better than that.

Caramel is one of those concoctions that make you slow down and take your time. Chocolate is dreamy and delicious and studies show that it actually does make you happier and more content. And now, thanks to Milky Way we can have our chocolate and our caramel too – with their new "Simply Caramel" bars.

And, thanks to the good people of the Milky Way brand, I have an amazing prize pack for two lucky winners. The "Simply Caramel Relax and Enjoy" gift packs each contain the a $75 gift certificate to SpaFinder.com (for a yoga class or a massage) and enough Simply Caramel Bars to indulge in for a month (that’s five, according to the chocolate bar professionals). I know my ideal prize is getting a massage WHILE eating all five of the chocolate bars in one afternoon though, and you are welcome to do that if you wish (just don’t tell anyone!).

So, if you’d like to win one of these prize packs, all you have to do is email me with why you love caramel. All entries must be received by 12 noon on Friday August 20th. The winner (randomly selected) will be announced here before 4pm that same day.

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Dinner Disasters (CONTEST)

Posted on Mar 18, 2010

I want to hear your dinner disaster stories! Please send them to me (ASAP!!) and I will chose the four that make me laugh the most (yes, I’m mean that way) and post them on my site or link to them if they are online. Those four winners will each receive a $20 gift certificate from Longo’s to help out with their next dinner disaster**.

In the meantime, can you please explain to me why many moms feel as though they need to berate themselves on a regular basis because they are not short-order, haute cuisine chefs…? I’ve heard all the reasons a million times, and even muttered a few of them to myself under my breath while grocery shopping at 10pm on a weeknight. You know what I’m talking about – the sorrowful lament of "my mother cooked all of our meals from scratch when we were kids", and the sad refrain "my kids deserve the best", or even the melancholy chords of "I won’t pull out a frozen lasagna for dinner again this week".

Why is it that every day mothers have no problem forcing themselves to do tasks they don’t have the time, don’t have the inclination, or don’t have the resources to complete…? Dinner is one of those responsibilities around my house that seems to always fall to the mom. (Of course, these days I am the only one tall enough to reach the freezer or turn on the stove.) Moms everywhere (at-home, work-from-home, mom-preneurs, work-outside-the-home, retired) are made to feel as though they are utterly useless unless they are capable of preparing and serving a fresh, hot, not-from-frozen, not-from-takeaway, gourmet meal to their loved ones.

Dinner with children can rapidly go from being an easy-going affair to something akin to Fatal Attraction, especially on a weeknight. I personally have too many dinner disasters to count, but I try not to let them get me down. Obviously we still need to eat and macaroni and cheese is rarely on the menu (unless made from scratch, then I can’t wait to dig in). But there is the odd night when I haven’t had time to prepare for, time to shop for or time to think about dinner.

Evenings like these can easily turn into a complete disaster – particularly with a small, tired, ravenous boy (are boys always hungry?!?) in the mix who just wants to eat, maybe read a book and go to bed. And I will admit that once in a while I turn to someone else for help. Recently I found a good, inexpensive, tasty "helper" for just these occasions. Longo’s sent me a few of their Fresh Meals Made Easy packs to test out at home.

Usually when I buy something pre-packaged, I find it lacking. With these I was pleasantly surprised. For the price ($9.99) and the convenience (dinner from fridge to table in less than 10 minutes…really, less than 10 minutes!) I don’t think you can get a better meal. And the quantity was quite good. Enough to feed myself, my son and left just enough for my lunch the next day. Fresh ingredients, no preservatives, lots of veggies; these packages are right up my alley. And with so much variety (Ginger-Lime Beef Stir-Fry, Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Chicken Linguine (Leith’s favourite), and Chili Garlic Shrimp Stir-Fry to name a few), how can you go wrong?

I did however have one small complaint: the instructions tell you to add the vegetables to the pan and saute for two minute and then to add the noodles. The veggies and the noodles are packaged together, sometimes all mixed in with each other. I’m a stickler for proper instructions, so I think they need to either tell you just to add it all in together or find a way to keep the vegetables and the noodles separate. I spent more time picking carrots out of noodles than I did cooking the entire meal. A small thing, but kind of irritating to someone as nit-picky as I am.

**Longo’s has locations in Ontario only – specifically across the GTA in areas like Downtown Toronto, Aurora and Brampton. Anyone can participate, but those living in/around the GTA would be best able to redeem the gift certificates.

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